[Halloween] Top 13 Favourite Horror Films by Decade

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TristramEvans

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1960s

13. PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES (1965)
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An early contribution by Mario Bavo, an Italian director that would go on to create the Giallo subgenre of horror. Though the acting, effects, and score feel like a holdover of low-budget 50s sci fi films, this Italian production adds a few unique elements that place it with one foot in the past, one in the future. First off, the costume design remains amazing, even to this day. I adore the spacesuits in this movie. And its backed by a rather interesting concept, one I'm surprised hasn't gotten a modern remake. Finally, the "Gothic SciFi" setting design is a very cool blend of pulp cover aesthetics with Hammer Horror visuals. Highly recommend if you don't mind a heaping helping of old school Velveta.

12. MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (1963)
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A visual feast, worth seeing for the costume design and one of Vincent Price's most iconic performances. Plus, medieval horror films are a greatly under-rated genre.

11. CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962)
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A surreal nightmare of a film, this plays out like an extended episode of the Twilight Zone mixed with a sort of proto-Jacob's Ladder. The strength of Candace Hilligoss's manic performance carries the audience through a David Lynchian plot.

10. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)
I'm not much of a fan of Zombies, generally find them the least interesting of movie monsters, and as a horror fan, gore is really the aspect of the genre that holds the least interest to me, and primarily all that Zombies have to offer (besides the metaphors for Communism or Consumerism). But the original Night of the Living Dead, which shares credit with Matheson's I Am Legend for essentially creating the Zombie Apocalypse genre wholesale, is a masterpiece. Even to this day , the ending hits like a brick.

Though it won't make the Top 13 List for that decade, I quite enjoyed the 70's remake as well.

9. VIY (1967)
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This Russian folklore horror film about witches, featuring one of the few onscreen appearances of the Baba Yaga, is a visual feast, featuring a creativity of visual design rarely seen outside of German impressionist films of the silent era.

8. THE CONQUEROR WORM (1968)
Better known as "The Witchfinder General", this is another command performance by Vincent Price at the peak of his career, and one of the first films to really delve into the brutality of the English Witch trials. Price's character is so disgustingly villainous, and the utter brutality of events leads to an almost Lovecraftian finale with the survivors driven to the brink of madness. The film is generally considered the innovator of what in recent years has been dubbed the Folk Horror genre.

7. EYES WITHOUT A FACE (1960)
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Holy crap is this an F-ed up film. After his daughter is horrifically transfigured in a car accident, a plastic surgeon goes to the most disturbing lengths you can imagine to procure her a new face. How this got past the censorship board of era is anyone's guess, as it would be pushing boundaries even today. Obviously the gore isn't shown, but you know what's going on, and it's disturbing on multiple levels. It's because of this film that I know what the term "heterograft" means.

6. WAIT UNTIL DARK (1967)
I feel like this is a forgotten classic, and Audrey Hepburn's best overall performance of her career. It's essentially the story of a Blind woman targetted by criminals, and it reaches Hitchcockian-heights of suspenseuntil the dramatic final confrontation between her, alone in her apartment, with a killer.

5. PSYCHO (1960)
Speaking of Hitchcock, Psycho isn't my favourite film of his (that would be Vertigo), or even my favourite film in the Psycho series, but you can't talk about this decade in horror without acknowledging it's massive effect on the genre and the echoes that reverbaerated through cinema for decades to come. There's no point on me selling you on this film, so I'll just throw in some weird random trivia: this was the first Hollywood studio film to feature a toilet onscreen.

4. JIGOKU (1960)
For the majority of this film's runtime, it plays out like a gritty noir crime tragedy (albiet filtered through a Japenese lens). There's infidelity, revenge, accidental deaths, intentional deaths, secret witnesses, more revenge, money, suicide, and organized crime. It all could very easily be the plot of a Scorcese film or season of the Sopranos. But it's the films final act that puts it firmly in the realm of a masterpiece of horror, as it goes where no Scorcese would ever go. When the protagonists of our film finally die, they are literally sent to Hell, and we get a Dante-esque tour of the 8 Hells of Japanese mythology that borders on Clive Barker levels of messed up.

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3. SECONDS (1966)
A heady science fiction film about a secret group that offer their clients a unique service - they give middle-aged men who are unsatisfied with their lives the opportunity to have theirDeath faked, as they undergo surgery to be remade into their idealized self and given a chance at a new life. If you haven't seen it, I don't want to ruin a thing by saying any more, other than it is a film that will haunt you long after it's over. Instead I'll leave you with this song that perfectly encansuplates the feelings the film evokes:


2. THE SARAGOSSA MANUSCRIPT (1965)
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A Russian doll of a film that begins with two soldiers during the Napoleonic films finding a manuscript in a deserted gothic mansion that tells the story of man who lived there years ago, who travelled the countryside plagued by spirits, encountering various characters who tell him stories, and characters within those stories tell stories, and all of this interreates until you reach some Inception-type multi-layered narrative about narratives within narratives. It is, admittedly, more contemplative than scary, like Bergman's The Seventh Sign, but it is one of the greatest films ever made, rich enough for multiple rewatches to peel away the different layers of meaning.

1. THE COLLECTOR (1965)
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Based on the infamous novel by John Fowles, this is a deep psychology dive into the mind of a sociopath, portrayed immaculately by Terance Stamp. Terrance plays a young man who lives alone and collects butterflies. Socially inept, he craves some sort of cure for his loneliness, but lacks the empathy and social intuition to connect with people, and so he hatches a scheme to "collect" a young woman, kidnapping her and imprisoning her, attempting to forge some sort of relationship with her, as she navigates his unpredictable moods, and inhuman mix of courtesy and cruelty. Humanity lies just beyond his grasp and his victim's tortures are as pathetic as they are horrifying. not because he is malicious, but because of his complete lack of understanding. Her harrowing ordeal is made all the worse as we as the audience are made silently complicet as The Collector remains our PoV character throughout. This is the kind of film that leaves a brand on your soul.
 

TristramEvans

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1970s

13. HAUSU (1977)

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This film is just batshit insane. The cartoonish, low-budget effects and over-the-top performances are absurdly comedic taken in solation, but the unrelenting nature of the film as whole leads to one feeling like they are actually going insane watching it.

12. INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978)
This movie has been remade almost as many times as bands past their prime have covered "Put up a Parking Lot", but it's the '78 version with Donald Sutherland that really hits iconic status for me.

11. CAPTAIN CRONOS – VAMPIRE HUNTER (1973)
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In my opinion, Hammer Horror's best film, despite a conspicuous lack of Christopher Lee. Visually lush, it combines beautiful period costumes, with the beautiful buxom British babes one comes to expect from Hammer, beautiful buuckets of bright red blood, and swashbuckling action. It feels like we're getting one adventure in the stable of a pulp series, and I wish that Captain Cronos had continued on in some form.

10. THE OMEN II: DAMIEN (1978)
While the first Omen tends to get all the praise, I actually really prefer the sequel, which is hilariously dark Antichrist coming of age story, almost a Satanic superhero origin tale. Damien as a conscious person unsure of what is going on around him and who he is is far more compelling to me than a toddler with a "projected fatal accident zone" extended around them, like the original. The movie gets deeper into the lore, and partly follows various people orbitting Damien who slowly discover who he is, and then Damien himself, who is faced with adults who have this weird cultish devotion to him he doesn't understand. The scene where he stands in a mirror, cutting back his hair to discover the Mark of the Beast on himself has far more impact than Gregory Peck's belated confirmation of what we already know in The Omen. And when Damien finally embraces who he is and unleashes his horrific powers on those who threaten him, he becomes terrifying in a way that you believe this kid could casually order around Pinhead.

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9. HALLOWEEN (1978)
I don't really feel like I need to say anything about this one. It started the slasher the craze that dominated 80s horror, and created two screen icons that are still audience draws to this day.

8. MARTIN (1977)
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George A. Romero will always be best known as the father of Zombie films, but it's this lesser known delve into vampire mythology that I consider his masterpiece. The eponymous Martin is a young man who believes he's a vampire. And the only other one to believe it is his weird grandfather. But we the audience are never really sure, as he has no fangs, and no problem with daylight or crosses. This is a bleak film, set against the industrial decay of a city, juxtoposing the inner decay of the people inhabiting it. Martin is part pathetic and part predator, and there's echoes of Terrance Stamp's character in The Collector here, as he seems to crave some sort of connection to humanity, but is beset by sick compulsions and self-loathing.

7. ERASERHEAD (1977)
David Lynch in full Lynchian mode with his powerful debut as a unique voice in cinema. Another film I feel like I have nothing new to say about, you already know it, and if you haven't seen it yet, the Halloween season is the perfect opportunity.

6. PHANTASM (1979)
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Wikipedia describes this film as a "Science Fantasy Horror film", but I think it's more accurate to say this is the American Nightmare put to film. It follows dream logic, and introduces half-identifiable archetypes in a rich blend of hinted-at mythology and cultural touchstones. Angus Scrimm's Tall Man is instantly iconic, as are the floating spheres. The sequels are....uneven, and like Hellraiser, I wouldn't recommend going further than the second one, but the original is a nostalgia-rich tread through the dark side of Generation X's subconscious.

5. LET’S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH (1971)
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The is another film that fewer people have seen, and I think benefits from the less the viewer knows going in. Despite the title, it is not a horror-comedy, but I think if remade today it might be easily be given the equally tongue-in-cheek title "The Ill-Informed Consequences of Gaslighting".

4. ALIEN (1979)
Yep.


3. THE WICKER MAN (1973)
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Called "The Citizen Kane of Horror Films", Christopher Lee's favourite film he ever made, and that rare blend of Horror and musical that somehow still works. This is the archetypal Folk Horror film, and it's existence is the reason I was more than a little underwhelmed by the much vaunted Midsommer which frankly just retreads the same grounds with less impact. You'd probably have to be living under a rock to not have the ending already spoiled for you, but the build-up holds up regardless.

2. PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK (1975)
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For a movie with no violence, few films have ever had such a complete and overwhelmingly brutal impact on me. There's no way to describe this film that does justice to the experience of it, from Zamfir's haunting score to the deeply symbolic use of colour.

It is a film that provides no answers, it simply leaves you to contemplate on the hollow sadness that envelopes the viewer.

1. SUSPIRIA
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I can probably count the number of horror films that have actually scared me on one hand. I got inducted and desensitized to this stuff at a very early age. But if ever asked "what is the scariest film you've ever seen?" the answer for me is easy. Suspiria, Dario Argento's tour de force of suspense. The use of color and sound design in this film are comparable to a ballet, and the masterful ability of this film to draw in the viewer unsuspectingly until you feel like you're adrift in an ocean clinging to a raft at the mercy of the waves is not something I've often experienced as a zoetrope.


NOTABLE OMMISSIONS

Carrie
- It would probably have been #14 or #15 on this list if I went to Top 20. It's an entertaining film, but not particularly scary or captivating. It's really just Sissy Spacek's performance that carries it.

The Exorcist - I never understood the appeal of this one, or the acclaim it's recieved. I find it alternately boring and silly. I've heard it called the scariest film ever made, and heard the stories of the original audience suffering from faints and panic attacks, and I'm just left perplexed. Maybe it's my lack of religious convictions? I can't say, as that's never been a barrier to me enjoying any other theologically-based horror flicks. But there's some essential element of this one that I'm missing, and so I don't rate it.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - The power of the film is undeniable. If you want to be flat out horrified, almost no horror film delivers like this one (despite a surprising lack of gore regardless of it's reputation). I don't debate that it deserves the pedastel it's held upon in the horror genre. But I just don't enjoy it.
 

TristramEvans

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What makes it fucked up?

There is a lot of messed up implications to the film, like layers of a fucked up onion that get creepier the more you think about it.

The father's obsession with his daughter has a depraved undercurrent, but it's specifically her beauty that he places importance on. The phrase "objectification" gets tossed around so often these days that its lost it's impact, but in this case the daughter's value is reduced entirely, in her father's eyes, to that of a doll.

And to restore her beauty he goes full Cenobite.

And she has been so indoctrinated by this treatment by him, that she literally lives out this fantasy of being a doll, emphasized by the majority of the film only seen in an uncanny valley-inducing silicone mask, when she isn't wearing the skinned faces of other women.
 

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What makes it fucked up?
There is a lot of messed up implications to the film, like layers of a fucked up onion that get creepier the more you think about it.

The father's obsession with his daughter has a depraved undercurrent, but it's specifically her beauty that he places importance on. The phrase "objectification" gets tossed around so often these days that its lost it's impact, but in this case the daughter's value is reduced entirely, in her father's eyes, to that of a doll.

And to restore her beauty he goes full Cenobite.

And she has been so indoctrinated by this treatment by him, that she literally lives out this fantasy of being a doll, emphasized by the majority of the film only seen in an uncanny valley-inducing silicone mask, when she isn't wearing the skinned faces of other women.
Also, the film gives enough breadth and characterization to the main cast that what we get is a very human sort of monstrous evil. The father never comes off as a mad scientist, but rather someone who heartlessly commits vile crimes for what he believes to be an entirely reasonable and even noble goal (when we see the father removing the faces of his victims, it is shown in a rather matter-of-fact manner, the same way you might remove just the right amount of excess fat from your pork for your sandwich). His assistant, even if she seems almost eager to help him procure the needed test subjects, is shown to have good reason to be so loyal to him. And his daughter, the moral core of the story, who is already constrained by her father's controlling nature, finds her soul and sanity threatened when she learns the truth of what her father is doing supposedly for her sake.
 

TristramEvans

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1980s

This decade was hard to condense to a top 13 list. The 80s was very much a golden age of horror, and though there were hundreds of lackluster and unimaginate slashers dropped onto the new VHS market for a quick buck, there was equally a wealth of gems. I widdled it down to 30 movies before painfully playing a repetative game of "did I like this one more than that one?" to come up with this list. And so, there are notable absences that are very worthy here, but ultimately these are the ones that brought me, personally, the most enjoyment.

13. CHILDREN OF THE CORN (1984)
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I'm not sure why I enjoy this film so much. There's something about the pacing and narrative thrust that continually draws me in. This is American Folk Horror, and follows much the same themes of The Wicker Man, but the added element of Peter Pan-ism elevates it above a simple copy because there's something so comprehendable about the Cult of Youth. Children, with their undeveloped morals and understanding of reality, mixed with the capacity to treat deadly serious events as a game, can hit that perfect mix of inhuman and primal humanity when used right.

12. AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981)
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I really like werewolves, but they haven't gotten many good turns on the big screen. The Howling series I found lackluster, notable more for nudity than anything else. I loved The Company of Wolves, but I've deliberately excluded anthology films from these lists. A lot of otherwise good werewolf films suffer from a lack of budget that leads to disappointing representations of the creatures onscreen. But An American Werewolf in London is just about perfect. It weaves tones of comedy and horror perfectly, the effects are still amazing to this day, and it has some genuinelly horrifying scenes (amusingly, some nothing to do with werewolves at all.

11. RE-ANIMATOR (1985)
Few films deserve their cult status as much as this one. Despite it being about as far from Lovecraftian as Horror can get, it is an absolutely hilarious film that overcomes it's awful budget and ridiculous premise with a surprisingly tight script, some devestatingly clever dialogue, and the overwhelmingly captivated screen presence of Jeffrey Combs. Besides Combs, director Stuart Gordon cleverly stacked the cast with Theatre actors, all of whom are obviously having a hell of a fun time camping it up.

10. CRITTERS 2: THE MAIN COURSE (1988)
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The Critters films are often unfarily dismissed as Gremlins rip-offs, and this is a great disservice to these unique blends of space opera, comedy, and small town horror. Not to mention wholly inaccurate, as Critters was written and in production before Gremlins. The Critters themselves are delightfully anarchic hellraisers, full of personality, and surprisingly devious and cunning, while the Science Fiction Bounty Hunters are so blunt and singleminded, they end up wreaking far more havoc and destruction upon the town than their intended targets (to the point it's not hard to see the characters in the film viewing them as the real threat). Some really great character performances all around from the townsfolk grounds this film in a necessary amount of reality that keeps it engaging. The sequel I rate only slightly higher than the original, which is why it's on this list, as it's just the appropriate amount of escalation while retaining everything great about the first film.

9. PREDATOR (1987)
This is another one of those 'Nuff Said entries, except that I'll point out how much I love the conciet of a bunch of hyper-masculine soldiers showing up in what they think is an action film that turns out to be a horror film, with Arnold as the obligatory Final Girl.

8. THE VANISHING (1988)
We're back in The Collector territory with this understated Danish film about a man whose fiance gets out of the car at a rest stop, and is never seen again. Years later, the effect of this unsolved disappearance has eaten away at him from the inside out. At first it seems the film is going to be a meditative exercise on grief, and the psychological turmoil of never knowing, but the film takes a shapr turn, when, returning to the spot where she vanished, he encounters a man who claims that he was her killer. And the killer makes the guy an offer: he can find out what happened to her, only if he agrees to go through the exact same fate that she did. We then switcc to the Killer's PoV, and the film goes on to explain everything and nothing at once, as we get to know the killer intimately, why he did this and how. This is another film that sticks with you for a long time. In fact, this many years later, I still haven't shaken it.

Avoid the American remake with Keither Sutherland like the plague.

7. VIDEODROME (1983)
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I talked about this one recently in another thread, so I'll just quote myself from there: "It was almost like Cronenberg was channeling Lynch with that one, it has this dreamlike quality to it, and its amazing how the social commentary seems even more relevant as time goes on. Even if the internet didn't exist, it's like Cronenberg preanticipated internet culture." After Naked Lunch, this is my favourite film by Cronenberg, a director whose films I overall love a lot. And James Woods' performance in this film is perfect.

6. FRIGHT NIGHT (1985)
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Combines Hitchcok's Rear Window, with Gothic Horror, and Suburban Teen Dramedy, and adds in that special relationship that kids of the era had with TV horror hosts. This movie is, simply put, delightful. The sequel is really good as well.

5. THE GATE (1987)
Speaking of delightful, The Gate occupies much the same space in my heartscape as Fright Night. It's full of very endearing characters, and some absolutely wonderful creature designs, in a tight story and premise that dips into Lovecraftian horror and splashes it onto an 80s suburban adolescence. Filmed not very far from where I grew up, in a setting that could have been one block away from my childhood residences, this tightly woven and expertly-executed film is one part Goonies, and one part all the thrills of Roleplaying Games in the midst of The Satanic Panic.

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4. HELLRAISER II: HELLBOUND (1988)
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Most people rate the original much higher, but this is another film where I find I keep coming back to the second one again and again. Hellraiser is one of my favourite horror franchises, and while none of the subsequent films past this one are worth a damn, this is where the Hellraiser mythos was really established. And I really love it for daring to actually take the audience into Hell, something we haven't seen since Jigoku. So few movies are brave enough to tread those paths. The Labyrinth, presided over by a floating Lovecraftian entity that manifests only as a geometic shape, is a potent and evocative physical manifestation of the Jungian subconscious, and though we only get the slightest taste of its depths, it's enough to encapsulate this world of pain and pleasure taken to the extremes. Yes, this film betrays the original's notion of Cenobites as "angels to some, demons to others" and literalizes the name Hellraiser (actually the original film's third title, after the Hellbound Heart, which the studio thought sounded too romantic, and, my personal favourite, "What a Woman Would Do For a Good Fuck"). And there's some plot holes, some suspect acting, and other obvious weaknesses (I'm pretty sure you can't just wear someone else's skin like that...). But I love it for it's ambition, and for it's mythology. I love how it handles the original Cenobites, giving us just enough of a hint of the humans they once were to want to know more, witthout undermining them as the monsters they became.

Oh, and one of the best horror soundtracks ever. Christopher Young's score gets regular play in my Call of Cthulhu games to this day.

For me, from here on out, ignoring the tragedy of the sequels after this point, the heart and soul of Hellraiser continued in the Epic comicbook series, and Hellbound laid the groundwork those comics built upon.

3. NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST III: DREAM WARRIORS (1987)
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The Elm Street series is so intimately tied to my childhood, that it's almost impossible for me to disassociate it from nostalgia. There's no way I could impart to an outsider how much this very silly series of horror films is deeply interwoven into the fabric of my being. I guess the best analogy I could offer to other GenX'ers is that this series was essentially my Star Wars (even though Star Wars was also my Star Wars). Which I realize is all very odd things to write about a film franchise that is essentially about a BBQed pedophile. Fangoria once declared Freddy Kruegar "The Bugs Bunny of Horror Icons", and I think that encapsulates the character's appeal nicely. In a genre of mindless, silent, zombie killers like Jason and Mike, Freddy was the class clown. Robert Englund's performance in the role, in my opinion, earns him a place in cinematic legend. We watched the Halloween films to see the victim survive, we watched Friday the 13th films to see the victims die, but we watched the Nigtmare on Elm Street series for Freddy himself.

I forced myself to chose one entry in the series as respresentative for this list, and went with the third one, which was where the series really hit it's peak. The deaths are incredibly imaginative, we get a good dosing of Freddy's secret origins revealed, the original Final Girl returns, and the new group of Elm Street kids are all very likeable and endearing in their own way.

2. THE THING (1982)
Beloved and acknowledged as an undisputed classic of the genre today, Carpenter's The Thing was panned by Critics at the time. It was described as "instant junk", "a wretched excess", and proposed as "the most-hated film of all time" by film magazine Cinefantastique. Part of it may have been the closeness of it's release to E.T., that year's science fiction blockbuster, and how much of a sharp nihilistic counterpoint it was to the lovable plush doll alien that liked Reeces Pieces and using telepathy to make underage boys horny (seriously, there are some messed up implications in that film upon rewatching it as an adult). But I remember the first time watching The Thing on Betamax, couldn't have been older than 4, and being completely enraptured and immersed. No film experience was quite like it. Incredibly believable characters juxtaposed with the most horrifying practical effects ever put to film. This was my first taste of Lovecraftian horror, years before I'd ever even hear that term.

1. THE SHINING (1980)
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Kubrick's masterpiece. And Kubrick was a genius I don't think Hollywood has seen the likes of before or since. A film I get more and more out of every time I rewatch it, layered with so many levels that elevate it beyond a genre film into something that is just simply one of the greatest works of art in cinema history, with no qualifiers needed.

And of course, the critics hated it on release too. More proof that movie critics in the 80s were dumbasses.

If you haven't seen the room 237 documentary, I highly recommend it. It's a great double feature with the film. Sure a lot of it is just insane fanwank, but there's a lot of gold in there too. And I also can't highly recommend the Youtube analyst Rob Ager (aka Collative Learning) 's video analysis of different aspects of the films enough.



 
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TristramEvans

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Yeah ,I deliberately excluded anthologies on these lists. Mainly as it would have seriously skewed the 2010's list. I may give them their own list at the end, along with comedy-horrors that are primarily comedy (which is why you won't be seeing Shaun of the Dead on the 2000's list).
 

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Great selection. We've talked about Let's Scare Jessica to Death before but I want to second Romero's Martin, another masterpiece that is the emotional equal of Night. I like Dawn and Day but to me they don't reach the same bar as Night and Martin.

Japan has such a great horror film tradition one could make a list of just their films for the same decades.
 

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1990s

13. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999)

OK, so it's 1999. I'm 19 years old, living in Anchorage, Alaska. I moved there for a girl I met online, and as that inevitably crashed and burned, I'm temporarily living in a car parked out of the way in a small clearing out in the woods, while working temp jobs to save up enough money to get my life back on track. Anchorage has three movie theatres, one large one downtown, one small one on the top floor of a three story mall, and then one in the "University Mall". The University Mall is so named because it's literally a small strip mall attached to a university campus. The attendant theatre here, with two screens, is notable in that it shows exclusively foreign and independent films, alot of documentaries and the like. Its here I saw Run Lola Run, and an Ideal Husband, along with a lot of obscure films and documentaries, many which I can't recall the name of (I should note I say everything in theatres in those days. I would bounce between the theatre and the library to pass the time cheaply). So, no TV, definitely no internet at that time. So all the hype regarding Blar Witch I missed completely. Here's the thing though, instead of going to one of the two regular theatres, Blair Witch Project as an indy film, shows up at the University Theatre. I show up one day, see the poster and think it sounds cool, and assume I'm going in to watch a documentary.

I've never watched the film since. I know there's no way I could recapture that original experience (but I loved the supplementary material, digging into the faux-folklore). So this film gets on this list based on the pure power of that first viewing, something I know no one nowadays could replicate.

12. HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1999)
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I had such high hopes for Dark Castle Entertainment. Established specifically to do modern remakes of Willaim Castle B-horror films from the 50s, best known for their goofy theatre gimmicks and liberal casting of Vincent Price - in other words, films absolutely ripe to be mined for ideas and concepts, Dark Castle's first offering was a remake of the classic House on Haunted Hill. The original was a fun film with a decent plot and some very clever dialogue, along with some goofy funhouse "special effects". Think skeletons on wires. From the opening credits of this new version, I was hooked. This was the first horror film to really embrace the new (meaning post-90s crap) CGI movement in Hollywood, and it was blended with practical effects in a way that holds up to this day (as opposed to those pure CGI films that look more and more dated with every passing year). Geoffrey Rush was perfectly cast as the Vincent Price character, and chews up the scenery. His playfully hostile interactions with his trophy wife, played by a maximum hotness Famke Jansen, are some of the highlights of the film. Jeffrey Combs makes a cameo, kudos on that, even if it seems a waste to not give him some dialogue. There's a fair mix of Jacob's Ladder-inspired creatures and a simulated stop-motion effect in the way the "ghosts" move that is incredibly creepy and something I'd like to see another film take advantage of. The stars of the films are atypical young late 90s middle class, nothing memorable but nothing painfully bad, but the addition of Chris Kattan to the cast as the alcoholic caretaker of the eponymous house (actually a former mental asylum) is a masterstroke.

In the end, the story was good, the twists were good, the horror is good. Not a cinematic masterpiece, and certainly time hasn't been the kindest to it, but I'll still pop it in and watch it occasionally to this day. And I was looking forward to what Dark Castle would do next.

And next was a remake of 13 Ghosts. It was, not as good as HoHH, but it was creative and entertaining. Matthew Lillard steals the show, a pre-Monk Tony Shalloub is serviceable, the plot is OK, the Ghosts are cool and memorable. It was decent. Then we got Ghost Ship, the first film from Dark Castle not a remake of a William Caste film. Ehhhh...it's alright. This time we get Gabriel Byrne as our Vincent Price stand-in, there's some passable effects, a suitably shocking intro...definitely the least of the three, but watchable. Then... things got bad.

They did a film called "Gothika" that was so unmemorable I can't even recall the plot. The released a direct to video sequel to House on Haunted Hill that was pure excrement. They finally attempted one more remake of a William Castle film in 2007 with House of Wax, in which they cast...Paris Hilton. Yeah. It was barely watchable. Then they gave up altogether and started making low budget action films. I don't know what the whole story is here. I don't know how we go from House on Haunted Hill to...Echelon Conspiracy. But it makes me sad. The creative team behind their first couple of films doing modern updates of The Tingler or The Abominable Dr. Phibes? Coulda been magic. Oh well.

11. THE UGLY (1997)
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An independent film from Australia, this tightly-plotted psychological thriller of a hot young psychiatrist interviewing a recently convicted seriel killer starts out interesting and quickly veers into the awesome. Fruedian analysis gives way to the supernatural, as the doctor slowly begins to believe the boy's "voices" causing him to commit atrocities may actually be something real. For a low budget film, it uses it's budget to good effects, the performances of the very limited cast are exemplary, and the pacing is excellent.

10. DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE (aka CEMETERY MAN,1996)
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This quirky Italian film about a gravekeeper, played with excessive charisma by Rupert Everett, who tends a graveyard where the dead don't stay dead, is at turns hilarous, sexy, and heartwrenchingly brutal. I can't remember where I first encountered it, but it's been a staple of my DVD library ever since, and the great sort of movie to pull out and ask if anyone's seen to put on for a new audience, as the answer is inevitably "no". It deserves more acclaim than it's got, but the fact so few have seen it is the reason I'm reluctant to go any further into detail.

9. SLEEPY HOLLOW (1999)
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Tim Burton's tribute to Hammer Horror films may not be very scary, but few films reach it's height of gothic beauty. It's a fun film, filled to the brim with a great supporting cast of character actors and a grown-up Wednesday Addams that is hubba-hubba. And Johnny Depp is not at his most annoying.

8. CUBE (1997)
I'm a big fan of high concept scifi horror flicks. There's a few on Netflix that I've really enjoyed recently (Await Our Instructions, Circle, The Platform). And it all really started with Cube. For ostensibly a lowbudget indy film, it makes the very most of what it's got, and the mystery is continuously compelling. The acting is...uneven at times, but nothing you wouldn't expect from a horror film, and the rising tension is believable. Overall a very clever, fun film. Unfortunately, word of mouth made it popular enough on home video rental to get some sequels (remember when that was a thing?), and that was a mistake.

7. HARDWARE (1990)
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Based on a short story that appeared in Judge Dredd comics, this is a cyberpunk horror flick about an experimental robot that goes on a haywire murder spree through an inner city slum, leading to a face off between it and our beleagured protagonist, a reclusive scrap metal sculptor named Jill. This film infamously carries an X rating, but censored versions exist.

6. JACOB’S LADDER (1990)
The last good film about the Vietnam war. Still waiting for the home video release of the extended cut.

5. TREMORS (1990)
It's almost hard to consider this one horror, as it's just so fun and entertaining, but it is a monster movie. I can't imagine anyone hasn't seen it, but if so, you need to immediately.

4. THE NINTH GATE (1999)
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There's a lot of things to dislike about this film. It stars Johnny Depp. It was made by Polanski, a director I refuse to directly support financially. It takes one of my favourite books, and guts it viciously, leaving out half of the story. But, despite all that, it's really, really well done. From the introductory scene of a book dealer ruthlessly exploiting a naive couple to the final operatic engulfment in the flames of Hell, it is masterfully paced and compelling through each twist and turn as we follow characters on their path towards willing damnation. And it's the sort of film where Satan appears to be the nicest person in the cast.

3. CANDYMAN (1992)
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Clive Barker's Books of Blood are one of the most significant contributions to Horror literature of the twentieth century, and attempts to adapt them have been...uneven. Rawhead Rex was pretty awful. The made for TV adaption Quicksilver Highway was horribad. The film actually called Books of Blood is worth skipping entirely. But there's been two good adaptions to come out of it, one I'll be discussing later and then Candyman. I'll say this much: I think Candyman is that very rare accomplishment of taking a really good story and improving it. The Jordan Peel remake has big shoes to fill, especially with the loss of Tony Todd, whose performance equals Douglas Bradley's turn as Pinhead. And that Virgina Madsen ain't hard to look at either...

2. ARMY OF DARKNESS (1992)
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No, it's not scary. Yes, it's incredibly goofy. And yes, I kinda withdraw from this film because it's become a bit overplayed in the time since, turning into an oppressive merchandise empire. But I love this movie so much. Hail to the King, Baby.

1. KAFKA (1991)
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With comparisons to Gilliam's Brazil, Cronenberg's Naked Lunch, and Welles' The Third Man, one might question why this film is on a list of best Horror films. That is, if one has even managed to see this film at all, which is notoriously hard to get ahold of, never getting so much as an official DVD release in the decades since it's debut. Stephen Soderbergh's tribute to literature's favourite outsider artist was ignored by critics and audiences alike upon release, and only managed to gain a cult following through a shared network of bootleg copies.

Despite boasting an enviable cast, with Jeremy Irons giving a command performance as the title character, and supporting roles filled by character actor heavyweights Alec Guinness, Ian Holm, Theresa Russell, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Brian Glover, and Jeroen Krabbé, this film was definitely not aimed at a mainstream audience. Anyone going in expecting a Biopic of the posthumous author would quickly be dissuaded of that notion. For while Kafka is ostensibly himself in this movie, he is also living out the plots of several of his own stories woven together that lead into something entirely different. The film is shot in black and white for the majority of the runtime, until Kafka manages to sneak into The Castle (implicitly the same impenetrable location featured in his unfinished novel by that title), at which point the film pulls a Wizard of Oz and switches to colour. It's here also that this ceases to be a film about Kafka, or any of the mysterious threads the movie led you to believe up to that point (Communist revolutionary bombers, corrupt bureaucrats, or government conspiracies) and turns into an insidiously horrific science fiction dystopia.

Where the movie starts with Kafka wrestling with an estranged relationship with his father, it crescendos into him bearing witness to Auschwitz-esque human experimentation. The film begins with seeming historical noir mysteries and then abandons them in favour of metaphorical surrealism.

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If I had to compare it to anything, it would be The Prisoner, and I'd almost say it's even more impenetrable than that.

I could go on with analysis and exploration, but I'm being deliberately vague on the assumption most here have not seen it. In a 2013 interview Soderbergh stated that the rights to the film had finally reverted to him and executive producer Paul Rassam, and so fans are hoping that means a blu-ray release might come in the near future. In the meantime, downloads and bootlegs and the rare overpriced VHS copy are your only options sadly, but I personally consider it a misunderstood masterpiece and one of the best films of all time, one that hopefully will eventually get the critical re-evaluation that it deserves.
 

TristramEvans

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Japan has such a great horror film tradition one could make a list of just their films for the same decades.


Yeah it was hard to leave off classics like Kwaidan and Audition, but there's many (especially from the 60s) still on my To-Watch list, and I am trying to draw a diverse sampling from a myriad of pools. Maybe next Halloween I'll be able to offer a completely alternate 13 for each decade...indeed I could see making this an annual thing, especially as I'd like to call more attention to some obscure stuff that don't make it to many online "Top Lists"
 

Endless Flight

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Sleepy Hollow is great. Ian McDiarmid makes a rare appearance on the big screen outside of Star Wars.

Edit: Forgot that Ray Park played the Headless Horseman.
 
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Voros

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I remember quite liking Kafka, I may have even seen it in the theatre but haven't had a chance to rewatch it since.
 

TristramEvans

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2000s

13. 30 DAYS OF NIGHT (2007)
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I got pretty burned out on vampires in the 90s. The move to romantic/antihero figures in pop culture de-fanged them tremendously, and even when placed in traditional roles as antagonists (like Blade), they seemed watered down and cliched. 30 Days of Night was a breath of fresh air in this regard, placing vampires back in the role of inhuman monsters, with some really impressive cinematography and a clever premise.

12. MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN (2002)
I mentioned when talking about Candyman that we'd gotten two good adaptions of Clive Barker short stories from the seminal Books of Blood, and this is the other one. I wouldn't say that it surpasses it's source material like Candyman did, but it fleshes out the story nicely for it's runtime, and features some really good performances from it's two leads. The CGI violence hasnt stood the test of time very well, but that doesn't detract from the mounting tension and horror of the film's final revelations.

11. FREDDY VS JASON (2003)
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The epic crossover between the two biggest Horror icons of the 80s took a very long time to make it through the mountain of red tape, and many were disappinnted with the results, but I think as a love letter to that era of Horror, it stands the test of time. It's at the very least, arguably, as good as any individual entry in either of those franchises, and the worst one can really say is that it doesn't rise above it's source material. This being Englund's last turn as Krueger, he brings his A-game and it's just as if he never left the makeup and christmas sweater. Jason is presented in a perhaps more sympathetic light than he deserves, but still manages to get in his fair share of kills. The underlying plot of the Elm Street adults to get rid of Freddy is suitably devious, and a good call back to the original betrayal of the parents in the Nightmare films, whose attempts to protect their children by keeping secrets once again inadvertantly puts them directly in danger. The high point has to be the performance of John Ritter's son as the last of the original Elm Street teens. All in all, it was a satisfying endcap to a huge part of my childhood.

10. DOG SOLDIERS (2002)
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The elevator pitch for this indy gem is essentially "Aliens with werewolves" as a squad of British military on maneuvers in the wilderness of Scotland chance upon a clan of lycanthropes. This is a fun film that makes the best of it's limited budget and features some realy nice make-up and costuming.

9. THE DARK (2005)
Partly, no doubt, as this film unfortunately shares it's rather lackluster title with numerous other films (including one which will be on the next list in this series), this movie seems to have completely flown under the radar. Which is a shame, because it's the sort of film that pushes a lot of my buttons. Folk horror based on Welsh mythology, featuring a descent into the Cymric Otherworld of Annwn. And Sean Bean. The presentation of the Fairy Otherworld from Welsh folklore is one of the most original I've ever seen onscreen.

8. 1408 (2007)
Much like the Shining, this adaption of a story by Stephen King takes the source material and infuses it with multiple layers of meaning, in this case the protagonist (played by the always enjoyable John Cusak) is a cynic mourning the preature death of his daughter who is dragged through the 7 layers of Dante's Inferno in a forced redemption arc. For a clever analysis I highly recommend this Youtube video:

7. MAY (2002)
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May is another story of a social outsider, desperate for human connection but lacking the capacity to integrate with society or communicate effectively with others, May also makes dolls. Unlike The Collector, our sympathies lie with May, so that by the time the film takes us into full horror mode, it's too late.

6. GINGER SNAPS (2001)
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Lycanthropy as a metaphor for adolescent girl's puberty is a concept that, once broached, seems so obvious it's surprising it's never been done before. The performance of the two leads, played by Emily Perkins and the always-adorable Katharine Isabelle, elevates the film out of schlock territory, and Mimi Rogers hits a pitch-perfect note as the caring but overbearing and clueless mom. And the practical effects are pretty good.

5. SILENT HILL (2006)
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While lacking the depth that Team Silent infused into the first two entries in the groundbreaking series, Silent Hill nonetheless effectively dissuaded the stigma attached to Hollywood adaptions of videogames, French Director Christophe Gans managing to capture the mood and visual aesthetics of the source. The acting and dialogue is kinda cringy at times, but the horror of Silent Hill remains intact, with all of it's sweet melancholy and psychological torment on full display. Despite its many flaws, I love this film, and I think it does what all the best adaptions do - it translates the essential spirit of the original to the screen.

4. THE MIST (2007)
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Wow, this was a good film. A tribute to 50's monster horror that manages to update and elevate it's inspiration, featuring a great cast of contemporary character actors and B-movie staples and an exceptionally charismatic "everyman" in the lead. The pacing and rising tension is handled masterfully, and the ending is a bleak gut-puncher that is a change for the better from the original story. The way it manages to make a desperate Karen into a monster more horrifying than the extradimensional creatures in The Mist lends the film an extra level of poignancy. If you have the chance to watch the black & white director's cut, it is well worth it.

3. AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000)
I can't really talk about this film without writing an essay. And I don't want to do this here, so all I'll say is when I was putting together these lists I was dumbfounded to realize this was a 2000 film, I thought I'd seen it much, much earlier than that. Sure, it takes place in the 80s, but I really coulda swore I saw this in the 90s.

2. MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001)
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Hands down my favourite David Lynch film. The Spanish cover of Roy Orbison's crying still brings me to tears to this day.

1. THE RING (2002)
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Even if the premise was a bit long-in-the-tooth by the time this was released (VHS was pretty much dead at that point), that's not even a criticism of this precisely-crafted masterpiece. The acting, the build-up of tension, the slow unravelling of the mystery and backstory, all lead up to one of the most satisfying twists in cinema history. It's also one of the rare times I think a Hollywood remake surpassed the original in every way. Oh, hey, and Naomi Watts is in both of my top two. Definitelly actress of the decade, especially if one adds in I Heart Huckabees.
 

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2010's

The last decade has been a new renaissance for Horror, and that's one reason this list was the hardest of any decade, even the '80s. The other reason is that I tend not to trust my opinions fresh off of newly seeing a film. My favourite films are ones that I've had the chance to take numerous views, to analyze, to ruminate on, and to see how they stand up to multiple rewatches. For this reason, my opinions on films often change over time, and ones that seemed like favourites immediately after first viewing, would not even rate mention on a list such as this a decade or more hence. Some of that, admittedly, is me changing as a person - tastes evolve and interests wax and wane, just as age brings with it inevitable alterations in perception.

So this list in particular has to come with two large caveats, and the first is that this is a temporary ranking of what is my favourite horror films of the last decade, as of this very moment. Next year, five years from now, this list might end up very different.

And the second caveat is that I am not the film-goer I was in my teens and twenties. For a long time I devoured cinematic entertainment voraciously. I would often go see several films in the theatre at once, jumping between showings. I was insatiably driven to consume, consume, consume.

That's not the case so much anymore. Stuff sits on my "to-watch" lists for months or even years. The best I can explain it is that there came a point, around the time I hit thirty, that I became gradually less interested in the creative output of others, and more focused on my own creative output. I feel like I got what I needed from other artists, and now place more importance on my contributions, my voice, my own creativity. I don't think that's necessarily as myopic as it sounds, I think every artist goes through that transition by necessary. If anything, I may have bee late to the game on that front. Anyways, the relevant bit there is just that I have likely not thoroughly explored what horror cinema of this decade has to offer. I can only offer my opinion on those films that I've seen. And don't get me wrong, it's still probably more than your average viewer, just not as much as the zoetrope I once was, in the days when I had to drive three towns away just to find a video rental place that might stock a film that I hadn't seen yet.

OK, enough preamble....
 
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TristramEvans

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13. CREEP (2013)
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I'm generally not a fan of found footage films these days. It's not simply that they've been played out since Blair Witch, that some filmmakers treat it as an easy crutch, it's more that the premise itself HAS to be justified within the film and by the POV characters in order to maintain suspension of disbelief, and far too many film-makers just aren't willing to go to that effort. I could go on a whole rant about that, but instead I'll say that this is an area where Creep shines. We have the reason and motivation for the filming-within-the-film, and it's used properly to the effect that it helps instead of hinders the narrative of the film. Creep is sort of the opposite of The Collector ( I sure do a lot of callbacks to that one, I know, bt it really pioneered a specific perspective and presentation of a realistic sociopath). In Creep, you have the same sort of character - someone lacking in empathy and social intuition who is desperate (seemingly) to forge some sort of connection. Or is he? The brilliance of Creep is that we are kept at an arm's length from the protagonist at all times, we are viewing him from the perspective of the victim. And we're never sure when he's being honest, or "real", or how much of what he says or does we can trust. All we know is that he is dangerous and insane. This wouldn't work so well if not for the brilliant performance of the lead actor, who embodies the role perfectly. He brings the perfect mix of affability, engagement, intimidation, patheticness, and just the general sense that something is "off" about him to the portrayal. And I won't say anything else in the offchance anyone reading this has yet to discover this wonderful series. I say series, as there is a sequel, and it is as good as the original, with a third and final film planned.

12. WOULD YOU RATHER (2012)
When I first saw this film, I enjoyed it, but wouldn't have expected to be putting it on a list like this. But nearly half a dozen rewatches later, it still holds up as one the best examples of high concept indy horror this decade has to offer. The premise is simple: a woman is invited to a dinner party by a rich "benefactor" where the guests will recieve a substantial cash prize for making it through a game of "Would You Rather?" without chickening out. The woman has a particular motivation for the money - namely the payments for cancer therapy for her brother that have placed her in terminal debt (obviously the film is not set in Canada, eh?). The other guests are in the same dire straights in their life for various reasons. The wealthy host is played by the always entertaining Jeffrey Combs. As you can imagin, the game gets very dark, very quickly.

11. OCULUS (2013)
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Though we've had a wealth of films based on Lovecraft's works over the years, the vast overhwelming majority of them do not in any way convey the concept of Lovecraftian Horror that HP popularized through his fiction. They tend to focus on all the wrong things - excessive gore and violence, creatures, andthey insert a surprising amount of sex into the work of a writer who was pretty much as asexual as you can get. Oculus isn't based on any story by Lovecraft, or any of the circle of writers who inspired or were inspired by him. Nonetheless, it is a perfect example of Lovecraftian horror.

10. THE RITUAL
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Four friends go hiking in the wilderness in Europe, and encounter something in the woods. It's not necessary to say anything more about the film, other than to assure anyone who hasn't seen it yet that it is very much worth doing so. This is modern Folk Horror at it's best.

9. YOU’RE NEXT (2013)
I've watched a lot of slasher films over the years. So many I don't think, if pressed, I could name half of them. It's not a genre of horror I particularly enjoy overall, though. The majority of them are uncreative, relying on gore over characterization, believability, or any modicum of talent to carry the film. And even the ones where that isn't true, still tend to be predictable and a bit by the numbers. But You're Next is something special in that regard. I won't tell you why, but I've never been compelled to review a slasher films as many times as this one.

8. CABIN IN THE WOODS (2011)
If you hate Joss Whedon, this isn't the film to change your mind on that. It is chock full of classic Whedonisms. But for those of us who enjoy his stuff, for the most part, boy was this film a treat. Yeah, it's a meta-commentary on the horror genre, but it's a clever meta- commentary, and still manages to be an exceedingly fun movie.

7. TAG (2015)
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Feminist writers in the Western world could learn a thing or twenty from Yusuke Yamada and Sion Sono, as this film is easily the most powerful critique on misogyny ever put to celluloid this side of American Psycho. Which is not to say that this film preaches at you, or anything so juvenile. Instead it lays bare, in the most violent and twisted manner possible, societal attitudes towards schoolgirls in Japan as presented in anime and videogames. And it is a Hellish ride. You can watch this and ignore the metaphorical social commentary, but you can't ignore the ending.

6. THE DARK (2018)
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And here we have another indy horror film titled "The Dark". It bears absolutely no resemblance to the one I talked about earlier, but like that one seems to have gotten very little recognition or fanfare. I think it's just too generic of a title. Which is a shame because this is a very, very good film. But unlike any other film in this series I feel compelled to give a warning to potential viewers: it is a harrowing experience to watch. It delves deeply into issues of abuse and trauma, up to and including the onscreen rape of a child. Even with my iron stomach for horror, that's the sort of thing that makes me literally nauseous, and though it was handled correctly within the context of the film, it still broke me. In another circumstance, in most other movies, I might consider that going too far, but the films tells an important story and, despite the supernatural aspects of the film, doesn't make light of the real life horrors that it confronts.

5. APOSTLE (2018)
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This is such a finely crafted film. At the turn of the twentieth century, a young man who is a fallen Catholic missionary turned alcoholic gambler is contacted by his estranged father as an act of desperation. His sister has fallen in with a group of religious extremists inhabiting an Island off the East Coast of the United States, and upon finding out her father was wealthy, have taken her prisoner to blackmail the father. The prodigal son intends to infiltrate the cult to rescue his sister. And then things start to get weird. Beautiful cinematography, impeccable performances, this is a masterpiece of cinema that takes the audience on a wild, unexpected ride through twists and turns.

4. BLACK MOUNTAIN SIDE (2013)
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Favourable comparisons toThe Thing are inevitable, as this film shares the basic situation of a group of scientists isolated in the arctic. So maybe the best way to describe this is...The Thing, but the danger doesn't come from a shapeshifting alien. The acting and direction are on par with Carpenter's classic as well.

3. THE WITCH (2015)
"Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?"

2. DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (2010)
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Guillermo Del Toro's remake of the classic 70s TV movie that terrified a generation of young children is a close companion of Pan's Labyrinth, being the story of a child encountering the faery Otherworld, but in this follow-up it is both far more literal, and vastly more malicious. If you enjoy dark fairy tales, with some genuine scares, this is the apex of that particular Horror subgenre.

1. PROMETHEUS (2012)
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ooooo...controversial choice!

 

TristramEvans

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2010s HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Autopsy of Jane Doe, The Babadook, Beyond the Black Rainbow, The Blackcoat's Daughter, Bone Tomahawk, Byzantium, Circle, Crimson Peak, Cropsey, The Double, The Endless, Hereditary, In The Tall Grass, It Follows, Krampus, Platform, Suspiria, Us, Vivarium
 

TristramEvans

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SUPPLEMENTAL #1

13 FAVOURITE COMEDY HORRORS (Any Decade)


13. Return Of The Swamp Thing
12. Gremlins 2: The New Batch
11. The Perfect Host
10. Little Shop of Horrors
9. Clue
8. Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight
7. The Ruling Class
6. Ghostbusters
5. What We Do In The Shadows
4. Shaun of the Dead
3. Psycho Beach Party
2. Manborg
1. The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra
 

Brock Savage

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I am surprised that you mentioned Hardware but it does happen to be one of my favorite films. I am putting Kafka on my must-see list but it will have to be when the Mrs is out, she doesn't like scary things.

OK, so it's 1999. I'm 19 years old, living in Anchorage, Alaska. I moved there for a girl I met online, and as that inevitably crashed and burned
Ah, I see you're a man of culture as well.

I did the same thing in my late 20's for a girl in North Augusta, South Carolina and blew through 6 or 7 grand that I couldn't easily replace.
 

TristramEvans

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I am surprised that you mentioned Hardware but it does happen to be one of my favorite films.

Yeah, I think it's terribly under-rated, but that's my feeling on many of the films on these lists.

I did the same thing in my late 20's for a girl in North Augusta, South Carolina and blew through 6 or 7 grand that I couldn't easily replace.

Ah, the naive things we do for the idea of love as young men...
 

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Mandy would have made my personal top 13 for the 2010's, I thought it was brilliant.
 

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Glad to see someone else likes Martin. It's a criminally underseen film, and Romero stated more than once that it was his favorite that he'd made.

Fun fact: the original cut was 2+ hours, and entirely in black & white. It disappeared, forcing Romero to re-edit it into its current form. In commentaries, he pleaded for a chance to see it, and promised he'd ask no questions and press no charges. He just wanted to see it. Sadly, he never got the chance. My personal theory is that the studio destroyed it, not wanting to bank on a long, artsy horror flick, but who knows?

Martin is a study in contradiction: we dislike one of the "good" characters, and sympathize with a "bad" one. Its an amazing flick, Romero's best and, I feel, his most personal.

One of the most unique "vampire" movies of all time, and Romero at the very top of his game.

I have show Martin to several people who weren't fans of horror movies, yet who really liked it.

Ganja & Hess is another great deconstructionist vampire flick from the 70s, and the most afro-centric vampire movie this side of Blackula. It reminds me of Martin in many ways. Fans of that movie would do well to seek it out. Like Martin, it straddles the line between grindhouse and art-house.
 

Gringnr

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SUPPLEMENTAL #1

13 FAVOURITE COMEDY HORRORS (Any Decade)


13. Return Of The Swamp Thing
12. Gremlins 2: The New Batch
11. The Perfect Host
10. Little Shop of Horrors
9. Clue
8. Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight
7. The Ruling Class
6. Ghostbusters
5. What We Do In The Shadows
4. Shaun of the Dead
3. Psycho Beach Party
2. Manborg
1. The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra

No one asked me, but there are a few really great horror comedies out there that don't get a lot of press:

There's Nothing Out There - teenagers in a cabin in the woods, lots of foreshadowing, and a character who's seen every horror movie ever, and knows what's coming. Worth noting that TNOT used this gimmick five years before Scream.

Hide And Creep - a low-budget southern-fried zombie comedy. This one is a hoot, and if you're not laughing by the time they get to the Coke vs. Pepsi bit, I don't want to know you.

Freak Out - two British horror movie nerds feel like they've won the lottery when an actual escaped lunatic wanders into their lives. But this is no Jason Voorhees. Instead, their maniac is a lisping, effeminate vegetarian. Can the pair make him into a proper serial killer? And if they do, will they be able to go control him? This is a weird, low budget comedy that has a joke roughly every 2.47 seconds. Even if many of them fall flat, the sheer volume of jokes means that some will land, and enough of them do that this is worth a watch. Tons of quotable dialogue, tons of tasteless humor, and a ripping good time. Also, an inexplicably high number of references to Larry Hagman, despite the 2004 release date.
 
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Voros

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Glad to see someone else likes Martin. It's a criminally underseen film, and Romero stated more than once that it was his favorite that he'd made.

Fun fact: the original cut was 2+ hours, and entirely in black & white. It disappeared, forcing Romero to re-edit it into its current form. In commentaries, he pleaded for a chance to see it, and promised he'd ask no questions and press no charges. He just wanted to see it. Sadly, he never got the chance. My personal theory is that the studio destroyed it, not wanting to bank on a long, artsy horror flick, but who knows?

Martin is a study in contradiction: we dislike one of the "good" characters, and sympathize with a "bad" one. Its an amazing flick, Romero's best and, I feel, his most personal.

One of the most unique "vampire" movies of all time, and Romero at the very top of his game.

I have show Martin to several people who weren't fans of horror movies, yet who really liked it.

Ganja & Hess is another great deconstructionist vampire flick from the 70s, and the most afro-centric vampire movie this side of Blackula. It reminds me of Martin in many ways. Fans of that movie would do well to seek it out. Like Martin, it straddles the line between grindhouse and art-house.

Ganja and Hess is amazing, Bill Gunn was supposed to make a blaxploitation vampire film and instead created a Godardian art/horror masterpiece.
 

TristramEvans

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One 90's one that bothers me I couldn't fit in the list is In The Mouth of Madness.

I probably should have prioritized my ongoing love for that film over the single viewing of Blair Witch.
 

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12. Gremlins 2: The New Batch

I hate this movie. With a passion. The movie might be considered middling at worst under normal circumstances. But I have an intense hatred that arises whenever someone brings it up.

To understand, you have to know that I was a projectionist for a period that included when this movie came out. Though the movies came out on Friday, we'd actually get them in on Thursday in a lot of cases, and I'd screen them that night after the theater closed. I was in the theater with the manager and a few others, with my popcorn and coke (had to pay for candy, but we could have all the popcorn and drinks we wanted as long as we brought our own containers), and all of a sudden, the reel started to melt. I jumped up out of the chair, running up the aisle falling up the stairs (yes, you can fall up stairs, I found out) into the projection room, wondering why I heard laughter... got in the booth, and the movie had continued. The manager knew what was going to happen and wanted to see my response...

Why would they put something like that in a movie?!?
 

Gringnr

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Ganja and Hess is amazing, Bill Gunn was supposed to make a blaxploitation vampire film and instead created a Godardian art/horror masterpiece.

I haven't watched Spike Lee's s remake, but I'm tempted...
 

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I haven't watched Spike Lee's s remake, but I'm tempted...

I love his original work, but he really dropped the ball on Oldboy, which makes me hesitant to watch another remake...
 

PolarBlues

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Good list. I'm hardly an expert on the horror, but there are quite a lot of non-obvious choices I totally agree with.

Also, for those in the know...

 

TristramEvans

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I love his original work, but he really dropped the ball on Oldboy, which makes me hesitant to watch another remake...


I didn't think it was the directing or performances in Oldboy that let it down compared to the original, so much as the script, they removed large parts of the story that made it work (the post-hypnotic suggestions), and blunted the ending
 

TristramEvans

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Good list. I'm hardly an expert on the horror, but there are quite a lot of non-obvious choices I totally agree with.

Also, for those in the know...



Jason didn't make any of my lists, but I've got hardcore nostalgia for Alice Cooper's tribute (even if the lyrics are kinda wonky)...

 
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